Center staff
Dr. Tiffany Smythe
Dr. Tiffany Smythe
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Dr. Tiffany Smythe is a marine public policy specialist and social scientist who uses interdisciplinary methods to conduct research on ocean governance problems and complex social-ecological systems.

Dr. Smythe has a M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. in Marine Affairs (2011) from the University of Rhode Island. In addition, she has a B.A. in History (1995) and a M.A. in Education (1999) from Columbia University.

As a Post-Doctoral Fellow at CMPS, Dr. Smythe teaches upper-level courses on marine policy and conducts academic research on ocean governance. Her academic research examines new and emerging maritime governance arrangements, focusing on port resilience planning in the Port of New York and New Jersey and regional marine planning in New England. Her work explores the inner workings of governance networks involving multiple jurisdictions, sectors, and disciplines; how social capital facilitates the flow of information and resources and encourages innovation; and how practitioners are responding to complex maritime problems like extreme storms, climate change, and conflicting demands for ocean space.

Dr. Smythe’s doctoral dissertation research used mental models and social network analytical methods to examine how coastal management practitioners develop coastal ecosystem-based management plans. She has also conducted scholarly research on waterfront planning and development trends affecting ports and working waterfronts. Dr. Smythe has also worked as a coastal management practitioner and was a member of the team who developed the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan, one of the nation’s first marine spatial plans to guide the siting of offshore renewable energy and other uses.

Dr. Smythe holds a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard Master’s license and has sailed extensively as professional crew aboard sail training ships. She is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program and co-chairs the Education Committee of The Coastal Society, a professional association of ocean and coastal scholars and practitioners. Prior to joining CMPS, Dr. Smythe taught undergraduate and graduate students at Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts and the University of Rhode Island.

  • Ph.D., Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, 2011
  • M.A., Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, 2007
  • M.A., Social Studies Education, Columbia University, 1999
  • B.A., History, Columbia University, 1995

Courses Taught:
  • U.S. Maritime History and Policy
  • Ocean and Coastal Governance
  • Federal Ocean Policy
  • Research Methods in Marine Affairs
  • Ocean Science and Public Policy

  • Senior Fellow, Environmental Leadership Program, 2013
  • Quick Response Grant Recipient, University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center, 2012
  • Fellow, Environmental Leadership Program Eastern Regional Network, 2012
  • Graduate Fellow, University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute, 2011
  • Dissertation Grant‐in‐Aid Recipient, University of Rhode Island National Science Foundation Coastal Institute IGERT Project, 2010 and 2011
  • Fellow, National Science Foundation Coastal Institute IGERT Project, University of Rhode Island, 2006‐2008
  • Education Fund Scholarship, Propeller Club of Narragansett Bay, 2008
  • Kenelm W. Coons Scholarship, University of Rhode Island, 2008
  • Graduate Student Award, American Planning Association‐Rhode Island Chapter, 2007
  • Fellow, Institute of Graduate Environmental Leaders, Roger Williams School of Law, 2005
  • Ann M. Hershfang Graduate Scholarship, Women’s Transportation Seminar, 2005

  • Smythe, T. “New York’s Flood Patrol,” NY City Lens 
  • Smythe, T. “With a Little Help From Our Friends.” Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine safety and Security Council (Spring 2014).  
  • Smythe, T. “Building Social Capital Through Collaboration.” Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine safety and Security Council (Fall 2013).  
  • Smythe, T. and R. Thompson. In review. “Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management: A Mental Models Approach.” Society and Natural Resources Journal.
  • Smythe, T. In press. “Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning: Building Social Capital Through Collaboration.” Proceedings of the Marine Safety and Security Council, the Coast Guard Journal of Safety at Sea.
  • Smythe, T. 2013. “Assessing the Impacts of Hurricane Sandy on the Port of New York and New Jersey’s Maritime Responders and Response Infrastructure.” Quick Response Report No. 238, University of Colorado Natural Hazards Center. Available online at
  • Smythe, T. “Marine Spatial Planning in the Northeastern U.S.: Lessons Learned from Practice and Research.” Invited lecture at “Joint Fact‐Finding and Visualization for Maritime Spatial Planning” Workshop, Vancouver, BC, October 11, 2012.
  • Smythe, T. and R. Thompson. “Using Mental Models and Social Network Analysis to Understand How Practitioners Develop Coastal Ecosystem‐Based Management Plans.” Invited lecture at the Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett Bay Office of Research and Development, July 24, 2012.
  • Smythe, T. “Using Social Network Analysis to Understand Collaborative Coastal Ecosystem‐Based Management Planning Processes.” Paper presented at The Coastal Society 2012 Conference, Miami, FL, June 5, 2012.
  • Smythe, T. and R. Thompson. “Using Mental Models and Social Network Analysis Methods to Understand How Practitioners Develop Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management Plans.” Paper presented at Social Coast 2012 Conference, Charleston, SC, February 16, 2012.
  • Thompson, R. and Smythe, T. “One Hundred Years of Lessons: What Marine and Coastal Spatial Planners Can Learn from Land Use Planning.” Paper presented at Coastal Zone 2011 Conference, Chicago, IL, July 20, 2011.
  • Beutel, D. and Smythe, T. “The RI Ocean SAMP Fisheries Stakeholder Process: A Case Study in Transparent Policy Development.” Invited lecture at RI Sea Grant Workshop, Applying Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning as a Tool to Site Offshore Renewable Energy & other Future Uses, May 24, 2011.
  • Smythe, T. 2010. “Can Coastal Management Programs Protect and Promote Water‐Dependent Uses?” Coastal Management Journal 38 (6): 665‐680.
  • Smythe, T., D. Beutel and S. Smith. 2010. Fisheries Activity Maps: Methods and Data Sources. Technical appendix to the RI Ocean Special Area Management Plan. RI Coastal Resources Management Council, October 2010.
  • Anthony, A., T. Smythe, and 19 other authors. 2009. “Coastal Lagoons and Climate Change: Ecological and Social Ramifications in Temperate Ecosystems.” Ecology and Society Journal 14 (1): 8.
  • Smythe, T., R. Freudenberg and R. Pirani. 2008. Making Waterfronts Work: Data Needs and Policy Recommendations for Preserving Water‐dependent Maritime Land Uses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Report for the Regional Plan Association, New York, NY.
  • Smythe, T. 2007. “Models for Working Waterfronts.” Op‐ed, Providence Journal, Nov. 27, 2007.
  • Smythe, T. 2007. The Demand for and Feasibility of a Statewide GIS‐Based Parcel Data System. White paper for the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, May 2007.
  • Thompson, R., R. Burroughs, & T. Smythe. 2006. “Exploring the Connections Between Ferries and Urban Form: Some Considerations Before Jumping on Board.” Journal of Urban Technology 13:2, 25‐52.
  • Burroughs, R. R. Thompson, & T. Smythe. 2006. Quonset Point Multi‐Modal, Mixed Use Ferry Terminal. Report or the Quonset Development Corporation and the URI Transportation Center.

Professional Memberships:
  • The Coastal Society (Education Committee Co-Chair)
  • American Political Science Association
  • The Society for Applied Anthropology